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Bhutan King calls for ‘new kind of individualism'

Ananya Dutta

Youth urged to lay emphasis on values instead of following a path of material rewards

— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Honour for King:Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk receives the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from West Bengal Governor and Chancellor of the University of Calcutta M.K. Narayanan at the annual convocation in Kolkata on Tuesday.

KOLKATA: Emphasising the importance of “the leadership of the self” as a solution to the problems that plague the world, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan appealed to the youth here on Tuesday to inculcate a “new kind of individualism” based on values instead of following a path of material rewards.

Delivering the convocation address at the University of Calcutta, he said: “We have been born into a world where it is more likely that we will pursue material rewards, instead of what is morally right. And we will follow the path of individualism at the cost of community and fraternity.”

However, he suggested that the students inculcate “a new kid of individualism – an individualism of values” that led to progress as a person and thus the progress of humanity.

Aware that “most of us feel limited in our capacity to create change,” the King of the world's youngest democracy also provided a unique solution to those who wished to believe in the leadership of the self.

“I imagine my life as a book — not a real book, but a book. And as I engage in writing it, in doing so I find that every moment brings the urge and the energy to do something special — something worthy to write down in this book,” King Jigme Wangchuk said.

The concept of the book acted as both his conscience and inspiration at times when he was confronted with a challenge, he added.

Sustainable growth

Speaking of the problems that plague the world, the ruler of the nation that gave to the world the concept of Gross National Happiness said: “Our generation is called upon to rethink, to redefine the true purpose of growth and in doing so to find a growth that is truly sustainable.”

“Growth that overlooks inequality, injustice, environmental degradation, unbridled consumption is ultimately unsustainable,” he said.

Speaking about the disparities between the rich and poor, he said: “Those in richer communities or nations should be mindful that with these disparities come disharmony, conflict and ultimately instability on a global scale.”

King Jigme Wangchuk was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Calcutta during the convocation.

The event was held on the first day of his first official visit to the city after his coronation. During his three-day visit, he will meet West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and senior officials of the State government. He will also attend a reception hosted by the Consul-General of Bhutan in Kolkata, Tshering Wangda.

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